Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 2




Breakfast was great.  They serve rice with every meal; it is the staple food in Madagascar.  Lunch and diner is just boiled rice, but for breakfast it is always a specialty cooked or seasoned rice. All of the volunteer’s plates are divided into the different foods that they give us with what I would call an average amount of rice, but if you looked at the workers and staff plates they had a mountain of rice with all of the other foods just stacked on top of it.  This being my second training day, it was a lot easier than yesterday.  We started with a two hour language lesson class, which was far easier than yesterday thankfully.  I found out today that it will be our last real lesson before we go to our host home tomorrow.  That I think will be a shock.  I am really excited to go, but I can not lie, I am a little
nervous about the language barrier.  Everything else will be easy to over come and most of it will be a fun experience, but that language barrier will definitely be a dozy. 
Most of the rest of the day was spent in fairly boring security and training meetings, but we did get beignets as a midday snack!  They were so good!!  After splurging on beignets we then meet up with our language trainer and went out to visit a house in the surrounding village.  Our group lucked out and had the closest house, so we did not have to walk very far at all.  On our way there some kids that were playing soccer came running to the ledge above us to watch us walk by.  As we walked down a dilapidated cement road we came to a house which had a small trail that lead down the hill to a house on the lake.  Chickens were everywhere.  Here they just let their chickens run free and then they come back to the coop by themselves at night.  So at every turn there is a chicken or a roster.  Arriving at the house we were greeted by the woman that lived there.  As she was greeting us her, I presume, young daughter came out to stair at us.  Getting stared at is going to be a way of life for me here for sure, but I am ok with that.  The house was surrounded by a stick fence and the yard was all packed dirt.  The house itself was a cement building maybe 15’ X 10’ and two stories.  Out front of the house attached to just half of the front wall was an addition of a small room made out of sheet metal and wood that worked as their kitchen, with a small chicken coop attached to that.  Getting invited into the house by the woman we were able to enter into her “living room.” This room was maybe 5’ X 10’ and consisted of a small table and chairs, a bench, and a bed.  I was surprised to see that she had a small TV and a DVD player and that she had electricity.  The light in the room consisted of just one bulb hanging by its wires from the ceiling.  After asking her a few questions about her animals and known taboos for the area, she then took us on a tour of the area around her house.  Before getting into that it would be good to make a statement about the taboos.  Every region in Madagascar has their own specific taboos, for instance in this area it is taboo to canoe on the lake drunk because at one point a couple drowned themselves in the lake to save the city (some parts of this story were lost in translation) or in my teachers village it is taboo to have a dog as a pet or to even pet a dog. One taboo that seems to cross regions is not going to the “kabone” (toilet) at night for fear of witches; these are not the broom flying, cauldron stirring witches of western culture, but mischievous people that wonder at night.  What these witches look like and what they may do to you if caught differs, but most everyone believes in them and if they do not the taboo itself is still engrained in the culture.  So continuing the tour we went to the back right of her house to see about six or seven wooden stalls in which were kept pigs of varying sizes.  She then showed us here “ladosy” (shower) which was about ten feet from her house and was only a 3’ X 4’ wooden box.  From there we squeezed between the ladosy and a small storage building and walked down a small trail flanked by mango and banana trees for about 30’ to a well in which she retrieved all the water she uses.  From there she showed us her kabone which was about 20’ in the other direction from the house.  This was a simple 101 latrine in a 3’ X 3’ wooden box that seemed to be on the verge of falling down with a floor that looked like it may give at the sign of any weight. 
Following this we returned to the PCTC (Peace Corps Training Center) and learned where are host families were going to be and received a paper (mine was two pages) stating facts about our family.  My paper stated that their were going to be eight other people in my household; the mother (who’s occupation is pastries and seamstress), two sons, aunt, cousin, grandfather, grandmother, and a maid…yes you read that right, a maid.  I was going to have electricity, a pet cat, some other farm animals (pigs, geese, and chickens), along with some other details.  We all joke that I am going to be in a mansion and will be living the life. 

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